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Alex Simmons

Audio Systems

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One for any audio heads out there.

In the man cave I'm resurrecting various bits n pieces for fun.

One of them is ability to use my old turntable and see what I can make of my old vinyl collection.

Some time back I picked up for not a lot of $ via swap and sell a modern-ish Yamaha amplifier to use with the big TV and my lovely old Tannoy speakers but realise it has no phono input and hence would require a phono pre-amp to use with the turntable. Was wondering if there are any Trannies with some knowledge on sensible options. It's a man cave and my needs are modest. Fun and enjoyment of listening to the old vinyl and to sound half decent, but not looking for audiophile level.

I really don't want to spend a lot (think under $100). I could possibly swap over my trusty old Denon amp (currently on other duties) which has a phono input but I'd rather leave it where it is.

I assume my cartridge is a moving magnet although I'm not 100% certain on that.

I saw one unit, an ART DJ PRE 2 - Phono Preamplifier, can be had for less than $100 and will accept either cartridge type. No idea if such things are any good.

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looks like a good choice. I think the main issue with preamps is the matching of impedance between the cartridge and the pre-amp.

The ART DJ PRE 2 - Phono Preamplifier  Input Impedance spec is 47k Ohms in Parallel with Either 100pF or 200pF

An article on just this topic states:

MC cartridge load impedance is usually 5-10x the output impedance of the cartridge as specified by the manufacturer, 1x-5x for cartridges used with transformers. For MM cartridges load impedance is usually a standard 47k ohms.

The effect of total load capacitance is more critical for MM cartridges than moving-coil designs. My view is that this figure should be as low as possible, but never more than 200 pF.

 

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Thanks. Yeah it seems to fit the bill and can cope with both MM and MC cartridges as far as I can tell.

Now having said all the above I'm tempted by the ART USBPhonoPlus V2 model at ~$140 which also has a USB computer interface to enable digital recording of the vinyl. Hmmm... My old vinyl collection playing in the car? I can barely remember what's in the boxes! Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, ELO, Bowie, some early new wave and my memory needs refreshing :)

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Got rid of my records years ago, only thing I really had of any significance was a red "man of colours" by icehouse album.  Did have a fair few though.  Then, for some unfathomable reason, my parents gave me a record player for my birthday last year and a handful of their own or records, mostly some big band stuff!  

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Icehouse, yes would have at least first couple of albums. Mi-Sex Graffiti Crimes! INXS's first album can't recall what it was called. It's slowly coming back to me. I wonder how much has aged well? Bit of fun to find out. I can just see me saying, "WTF did I buy that?"!

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So what sort of stuff is everyone else running these days, for audio and tv/home theatre?

I was using all home made bookshelf speakers from jaycxar components, but my wife always hated the look of them.  We had an old of htib with the champagne flute looking speakers, so I'm using the two fronts and centre from them, with some jaycar in ceilings for the rears, but still have my home made sub.  I'm no audiophile so it all sounds good enough for me.  All from a Yammy amp, a few years old now which I bought of my fil when he upgraded/downgraded to a Yammy soundbar (the good one).

Got a 65" tv (I wanted smaller but my wife insisted), and a htpc using Plex to stream media to various apps and devices, including the tv.  I had been using media portal for many years as my htpc app, but I'm finding Plex is just easier.  Everything just works, and the free version is all you need to stream around the house.  I have the electrician's some cat5 cable to run through the house when we built, and with a few switchboxes the tv, htpc and Xbox all run on ethernet rather than wifi.

Have a Google home now as well, which we play some music and radio through at times, though I need another Chromecast so I can send it to the amp.

My real indulgence, and moment of weakness, is my headphones which I don't use enough, mostly at work really.  Got all excited when Waleed Ally did a story on the Nuraphone headphones which were on Kickstarter, and we backed them.  They're weird as, and not for everything, but their fit doesn't bother me.  I love em.  Don't use them enough around the house as my wife thinks I'm just trying to screen her out, and keeps talking to me so I'm forever taking them on and off.

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I used to have (if memory serves) ...

  • Micro-Seiki BL-91 turntable + SME-V tonearm
  • Dynavector Karat MC cartridge + Dynavector DV6X step-up transformer
  • Yamaha C2a pre-amp
  • DBX-4BX (used sparingly)
  • Harmon Kardon Citation II power-amp
  • Electrovoice Interface-D speakers

It was a passably good sounding combination (LOL) that I accumulated over a period of years, progressing through various upgrades as I learnt what I liked and didn't, and was the love of my life. 

While none of it was cheap at the time, it was also nothing like the mind boggling prices people now pay for equivalent gear.

Unfortunately I was forced to sell everything to pay debts, and it all went for a fraction of what it was worth.
 

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I bought one of those really cheap and nasty turntable/USB things on ebay for about $50 bucks. Works OK but who knows what the stylus actually is and what it does to the records?! - I recorded some old Masters Apprentice Singles I got at the op shop on to MP3 via USB and Audacity - works well but but less-than-perfect vinyl crackle and pop is pretty hard to put up with these days. 

I actually bought the turntable as I needed a controlled spinning platform to calibrate a gyroscope device and a wheel sensor/magnet for a home made bike computer thing.  Works perfectly using a "Howard Morrison Quartet" LP (also purchased from the op shop) as a base.

 

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